David Ruzicka is the Founding Editor of Datalyrics, a Prague-based investigative boutique that strives to communicate social science better. With a background in economics and comparative political science, David studies autocratization. He researched migration portrayal in newscasting. David is also a co-founder of the Czech & Slovak Club of the European Forum Alpbach.
See more details about David’s research project he will develop at MJRC below.
Towards Shared Understanding of Accuracy and Impartiality
Background and rationale
Research on the standards of internal plurality is mind-bogglingly rare in Europe. The main focus of the debate about statutory content regulation has traditionally rested with the regulation of commerce and child protection. Yet, the first European comparative study on the subject of internal plurality was published only two years ago.(1)
If there is a relevant legal framework that connects the past and present regulatory experience to the current information malaise, it lies precisely in this area.
This project, therefore, aims to open the proverbial black box of national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and explain the problem of arbitrariness in the non/enforcement of ethical and legal standards like accuracy and impartiality in V4 countries. The project is focused on news, commentary and current affairs programs in broadcasting. Describing good practices of, for example, the UK’s national regulatory authority, the project seeks to offer recommendations for creating a shared understanding of the standards and making the compliance assessment – whether by a statutory regulator or a professional organization – more rules-based, predictable and transparent.
How do representatives of national statutory regulators understand the standards of internal plurality and the processes through which they assess content compliance?
If content broadcast by Hungarian and Polish content providers fulfils the characteristics of propaganda, what weaknesses in the regulatory system cause that the viewers are typically not provided with any remedy?
How exactly does the British NRA prevent arbitrariness in its compliance assessment? Can its good practices be emulated in continental Europe?
What adaptations of the old standards does the digital age invite?
We have conducted basic desktop research, leading to an overview of legal frameworks in all V4 countries and an overview of case law in the Czech Republic.
We held 20 background interviews with regulation experts and media professionals in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, including several semi-structured interviews with current and former members of NRAs, about the standards’ definitions, contextual criteria, NRA’s assessment processes and selected cases.
 ERGA, ‘Internal Media Plurality in Audiovisual Media Services in the EU: Rules & Practices’, 2018 <http://erga-online.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ERGA-2018-07-SG1-Report-on-internal-plurality-LQ.pdf>. In Hungary, research on this topic has been done by media watchdog Mérték and CMDS. Another somewhat curious exception are studies published by the Hungarian NRA that are, however, formalistic: Moravec, Ondřej, Andrej Školkay, Luboš Kukliš, and Ondrej Jurišta, ‘Volume I: Czech Republic and Slovakia’, in Comparative Media Law Practice: Media Regulatory Authorities in the Visegrad Countries (National Media and Infocommunications Authority, 2016), I; Galewska, Eva, and Szabina Berkényi, ‘Volume II: Poland and Hungary’, in Comparative Media Law Practice: Media Regulatory Authorities in the Visegrad Countries (National Media and Infocommunications Authority, 2016)